Years into the future, we will look back upon the “oughts,” searching for those few bands that we all seemed to forget about, but that completely deserved our love and affection. Already I can see The Dears being one of those bands; so adored by fans, yet never given the chance to completely blossom before us. Their latest release, Missiles, again has them chasing down labels, losing members and still coming out on top of the world. They settled with Dangerbird Records in order to release the album in these United States.
Much has been made of singer, Murray Lightburn’s, tendency to come off as a black Morrissey, but throughout this album you get a peak at a more mature Murray, one that is comfortable in his own skin, singing as carefully as his music requires. Opening track, “Disclaimer” features one of the most laid-back Lightburn vocal performances to date, which is still ridiculously wonderful in its own right.
One of the more apparent attributes of this album, and possibly the one fault, is that this album doesn’t sound quite as complete as The Dears albums from the past. There are some empty spaces throughout the record, which is most likely due to the loss of every member in the band other than Natalia and Murray. Although their traditional soundscapes are not nearly as dense as they once were, it makes way for a lot more intimate moments for the listeners, not to mention the full emergence of Natalia’s vocals. But, most will find that the grandiose soundscapes of typical construction are strikingly absent here.
As usual, there is evidence of a certain sense of melancholy and ruination, as evidenced by songs like “Demons,” but the unique organization of the lyrical content in the songs carefully allows for the continual movement of the songs’ statements. After all the trials and tribulations of the band, and couple, heading this album, it’s difficult not to empathize with everything they’ve gone through, even in song.
Admirably, they solider on into that good night. Creating wondrous songs full of lush guitars, ebbs and flows, and subtle defiance. Many of the songs go beyond the 5 minute mark, which really means you have more of The Dears to listen to night after night. The build up towards the final launch in “Missiles” is just an example of the mastery this group has over their songs, perfecting nearly every one.
In the end, we might all skip over this one, or this band for that matter. We may see their absence of credibility with various labels, or the decrease in interest building up to this new album; but, always present will be the incredible songs the group has written, and continues to write, in the face of more adversity than most of us will ever care to endure.